* Messagenet says EU should block anticompetitive bundling
* Italian rival says interoperability should be ensured
* EU Commission to decide on Microsoft, Skype deal by Oct. 7
* U.S. antitrust regulators cleared deal in June
By Francesco Guarascio
BRUSSELS, Sept 26 EU regulators now vetting
Microsoft's bid to buy Skype should block any
anti-competitive bundling of Microsoft's Windows software with
the Internet phone service, a Skype rival said on Monday.
Italian fixed-line and voice over internet protocol (VoIP)
telephone provider Messagenet SpA also urged the European
Commission to ensure that the companies supply data allowing
competitors to provide products that will function with Skype's
Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, its
biggest-ever, would enable the U.S. software company's new
Windows Phones to compete directly with Google and
Apple smartphones which already feature video chat.
The deal was approved by U.S. antitrust regulators in June.
EU approval is one of the remaining regulatory hurdles before
the deal can be finalised. Antitrust lawyers said they do not
see any major competition concerns.
Messagenet called on the Commission in a letter to take note
of the dominant position Skype would have if it was acquired by
Microsoft, as well as the possibility that rivals could be shut
out of the markets.
"(An) anticompetitive bundling of Skype into the Microsoft
operating system should be prohibited in any case," the company
said in the letter obtained by Reuters.
Messagenet said the companies should be obliged to disclose
the relevant interoperability data to competitors.
The European Commission is scheduled to decide by Oct. 7
whether to clear the deal. Earlier this month, it asked third
parties to comment on the case.
Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said the regulator was
studying the observations from third parties.
In December 2009, Microsoft settled a lengthy Commission
investigation into the linkage between its Internet Explorer web
browser and its Windows operating system by agreeing to let
consumers choose their browser from a range.
Separately, Microsoft has been hit with a total of 1.68
billion euros ($2.25 billion) in fines by the regulator in
recent years for other offences.
(Writing by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Sebastian Moffett)